Information Commission goes digital to improve efficiency

Shailesh Gandhi, the CIC, estimates that with the digitisation, his office would be saving about 20,000 sheets of paper in the next twelve months

Shailesh Gandhi, the Central Information Commissioner, has changed the image of a typical government office, at least at the Information Commission. Over the past three months, his office has scanned all of its 9,000 files which are now available on the office network for any member of the staff to access.

About two weeks back, Mr Gandhi's office stopped receiving paper and started accepting digital images every day. All new communications come to his office after scanning and converting of papers into a soft or digital copy. Even for emails, the Commission now attaches the email to the appropriate electronic folder instead of printing and keeping a hard copy in the file.

"While I admit that my office is relatively 'young' and most records are less than two years old, I believe that more government offices can move towards making their records electronic," Mr Gandhi said in his blog.

The preamble of the Information Technology Act states that it is an Act to facilitate electronic filing of documents with government agencies. Section 4 of the Act provides legal recognition to electronic records; Section 5 provides legal recognition to digital signatures; and Section 7 states that if a record is to be retained for a particular period of time it would be deemed to have satisfied that rule if it is available in an electronic format. In short, digital record-keeping is definitely the way forward in any office-government or otherwise, says Mr Gandhi.

The Commission created a very simple computer program, which is easily duplicable, to manage the work in the office. The program not only makes all files available to every member of the staff at all times, but it also means that any new action taken on the files gets linked to the original file with the click of a mouse. Only letters, which have to be sent by the office, are printed. Drafts of orders, notices, and other types of communications are reviewed on the computer before printing. Mr Gandhi estimates that his office would be saving about 20,000 sheets of paper in the next twelve months.

He said that his office was able to make the transformation in a very short span of time and with no requirement for any additional budget. "Simple changes can make a big difference-all we need to do to make those simple changes is to set our mind to it. If all government offices go digital, the impact on governance and transparency could be huge. As by-products we could get a reduction of corruption and paper usage," the information commissioner added.



T.P. Viswanathan

6 years ago

Will the CIC be pleased to provide the email id of his office in his office website or in the Central Government Website!

kishore jagtiani

6 years ago

A commendable effort & work done by Shailesh Gandhi.

It saves paper, time & is easily available to everyone at a moments notice, improving efficiancy & removing corruption & corrupt practices & manipulation.

BoR board likely to meet on Thursday to discuss voting validity

The meeting was called after a majority of the directors on the bank's 15-member board sought to clear the uncertainties pertaining to the EGM held on Monday, which witnessed dramatic events following court interventions

Amid the continuing uncertainty on the validity of the poll conducted by Bank of Rajasthan (BoR) shareholders on Monday, the bank's Board is likely to meet on Thursday (24th June) to discuss the legal opinion it has obtained on the matter, reports PTI.

According to a source close to the development, the meeting was called after majority of the directors on the bank's 15-member board demanded it to clear the uncertainties pertaining to the Extra-ordinary General Meeting (EGM), which witnessed dramatic events following court interventions.

"The board of BoR will meet tomorrow to discuss the legal opinion it received on the validity of the voting process conducted at the EGM. The meeting has been called for after a majority of the independent directors of the bank demanded it," the source told PTI.

On Monday, high drama marked the shareholders' vote on Bank of Rajasthan's merger with country's largest private sector bank, ICICI Bank, with a local court in Kolkata staying the extraordinary general meeting (EGM) only for it to be vacated by the high court.

The meeting to approve the merger of Udaipur-based BoR with the country's largest private sector lender ICICI Bank got off to a chaotic start, when the BoR management said it was cancelling the meet following a stay obtained by an investor from a civil court. Following this, the shareholders elected a chairman from among them and went ahead with the voting.

On Tuesday, BoR's RBI-appointed managing director and CEO, G Padmanabhan had said that the bank has sought legal opinion to examine whether the votes cast by the shareholders were legally binding.

BoR is understood to have received the version from legal experts on the validity of shareholders' poll but the details are not yet known.

Both BoR and ICICI Bank shareholders had voted in favour of the merger of the two entities at a swap ratio of 1:4.72.

BoR has nine independent directors on its Board-P N Bhandari, K N Bhandari, M R Calla, Pran Agarwal, K G Kurian, Vipul Mehta, Dharinder Tayal, Salil Kapoor, Nitin Goel. It has five RBI nominees also on the board including Padmanabhan.

ICICI Bank last month agreed to take over Bank of Rajasthan in a share-swap deal that valued the Udaipur-based bank at over Rs3,000 crore. The share swap ratio was fixed at one ICICI Bank share for every 4.72 shares of BoR. Both banks can proceed with the merger only if the shareholders approve the swap ratio.

Once the shareholders approve the merger, both banks will then approach the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).


India, EU working to sign labour mobility pact

The pact provides for cooperation in areas of labour market expansion, employment facilitation, orderly migration, exchange of information and cooperation in introducing best practices

In an effort to ensure orderly migration to and fro, India and European Union are working on signing a labour mobility pact, which envisages exchange of information relating diverse fields of employment, reports PTI.

The decision to go for such a pact was taken at a meeting between European Union foreign affairs minister Baroness Catherine Asthon and overseas Indian affairs minister Vayalar Ravi in New Delhi today.

Officials present at the meeting said both the sides basically discussed about signing a 'Labour Mobility Partnership Agreement (LMPA)' to facilitate "legal" and "orderly migration" of the workforce from India to European Countries and vice versa.

The LMPA provides for cooperation in areas of labour market expansion, employment facilitation, orderly migration, exchange of information and cooperation in introducing best practices.

"We discussed issues of mutual interests. The focus was mainly on migration and movement of people. The dialogue went off very well," Mr Ravi said after the meeting.

Seeking greater two-way engagement, Ms Asthon, on her part, said both the sides discussed ways and means to improve opportunities for migrant workers in India as well as Europe.

European Union is India's major partner in the area of trade and investment. Both the sides are now negotiating a free trade agreement.

Ms Asthon said the 27-nation economic bloc was interested in enhancing ties with India in new technology sector.

"We are particularly focusing on what's happening in places like Bangalore and the opportunities in new technology industry and opportunities for Indians in Europe," she said.

India has already signed LMPAs with several Gulf countries.

Officials of the ministry of overseas Indian affairs said one of the priorities of the government is to diversify the overseas destination base for Indian workers and secure labour markets for them in the emerging job opportunities across the globe.

India has signed LMPAs last year with Malaysia and Bahrain to improve recruitment, employment conditions of workers and promote legal migration.


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